This guest post is by Nick Thacker of livehacked.com
Does the term “building a platform,” mean anything to you?
If you’re like me, you’ve heard that exact phrase way too many times – maybe you’ve even used it yourself.
It’s the modern-day version of “Web 2.0,” “synergy,” and “social media marketing.”
It seems like every writer these days is interested in building an online platform, and every writer is interested in using their blog as the main way they attract new readers, fans, and customers as well.
The thing is, not every blog is truly a platform, and not every “platform” is really a platform either. They’re not set up correctly, or they’re not effectively communicating their goal, or whatever – the blogger is not getting what they want from their blog and website.
In coaching and teaching writers on how to build a great online platform, I’ve come across many different examples of “platforms” that didn’t hold up well to scrutiny. While there are many things that could be wrong with your own online platform, here are the top three that I’ve come across:
Failure to communicate the goal.
Every blog, every website, and every book needs to have a purpose; a reason for existence. When an author starts a blog, the purpose of that blog can be anything from “selling more books” to “writing about writing.” It can be a teaching blog, a sales-focused blog, or something else entirely.
Here’s the rub: when you initially draft that “purpose,” you need to figure out how to work it into your blog’s design and structure. Why are you blogging? What’s in it for your readers?
Most likely, you’re not big enough to be able to run a successful blog about what you had for breakfast – you need to provide something your readers will value.
A call-to-action is a marketing term to describe an action that you want your visitors to perform.
Want us to sign up for a mailing list? Maybe even buy your book? Those are both examples of actions you’d want us to take if we visited your platform.
The problem is that many authors don’t – or are afraid to – ask their visitors to take that action. It feels dirty; shady.
But it’s not. A call to action is the only reliable way to go from helpful online resource to helpful platform. Anyone can build a resource – the great platforms are the ones that aren’t afraid to “ask for the sale” when it comes down to it.
When I started blogging, I had zero subscribers and zero engagement (people didn’t care what I did or didn’t do).
Now, I’m on a mission to grow by 10,000 subscribers by the end of this year.
That’s a tall order, but I think it can happen.
The difference is in the follow-up. Where many blogs fail is in the lack of follow-up: they’re content with one-time visitors, low subscription rates, and a handful of comments each week.
A great platform, however, is one that creates community, attracts followers, and eventually0 grows. By creating ways to “follow up,” you entice visitors to stick with you and keep coming back for more.
Mailing lists, responding to comments, and writing regularly are all great ways of offering ways to follow up, and each are mandatory elements of a great platform when I’m teaching or coaching.
What are you doing?
So what are you doing to build a great platform? Have you let any of these major platform issues arise, and if so, are you doing anything about them?
Selling books as a self-published author is about more than just writing – that’s the unfortunate truth. But when you embrace the truth for what it is, you can actually start enjoying the built-in interaction you’ll find with a solid author platform, and you might find the engagement is worth the trouble!
How are you doing with your author platform? Are you having trouble? Leave a comment and let us know!